Cynthia Knable is the Founder and CEO of CeresEd, an educational content development company. She leads teams of talented project managers, writers, editors, and artists in creating products for educational publishers, EdTech companies and more.
Cynthia joins Mike Palmer to share her experiences beginning as a content writer and editor before quickly rising to a leadership role culminating in founding Ceres-Ed. She shares her perspectives on emerging trends in content development and educational publishing as we touch on themes of diversity, equity and inclusion, and democratization of publishing through the removal of traditional gatekeepers.
It’s an engaging and insightful look into the world of content as a service that you won’t want to miss!
For more great shows like this subscribe to Trending in Education wherever you get your podcasts. Visit us at TrendinginEd.com.
Create anticipation for back to school by bringing back traditions you’ve had in the past, or making some new ones:
Say farewell to summer with their choice of a fun day out.
Make shopping for new school supplies special by going out for lunch or ice cream after.
Make an annual time capsule with photos, handwriting samples and drawings. Open it at the beginning of every school year.
Do a back-to-school interview. Record height, weight, friends, favorite movie and foods, and what they want to be when they grow up. Keep them in a notebook to read the day before school starts.
Plan a special back-to-school dinner with your kids’ favorite foods. Break out the decorations and dress up for the occasion.
Teachers are Excited About School, Too!
“Nothing can replace the impact, relationships and joy of in-person learning environments,” says Katie Blum, a second grade teacher at Sugar Hill Elementary and Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year. “Having all of our students in the same classroom allows teachers to develop a closer community, or class family, and nurture not only academic skills, but also behavior and social skills.”
“I’m excited about returning to campus for many reasons. The most important part of it is that I can see the emotion from each face,” says Yao Li, a Chinese Instructor at OMNI International School. “Face-to-face interaction helps me see students’ learning experience and tells me instantly what I should do next. My students told me that they love going back to school, too.”
Tips and Tricks For a Great School Year!
Work together to create an outline of your child’s school and activity schedules in a cute planner. Create a family calendar with everyone’s activities and commitments.
Refresh rules for screen time. When and for how long can they use electronics? Have a “bedtime” for electronics that is well before your child’s actual bedtime.
Shop for school supplies and clothes early. Before shopping, go through your kids’ wardrobes and last year’s school supplies, and toss or donate the items they’ve outgrown or no longer want.
Increase the independence of younger kids by practicing tasks before school starts: refilling a water bottle from a water fountain or sink; opening a lunch box, snacks and containers; sitting, eating and cleaning up a meal at a table within 20-25 minutes; memorizing family or guardians’ real name, phone number and address; and focusing on an independent task for 10-20 minutes.
Have a backup transportation plan in case your kids miss the bus – make sure they know who to call if this happens.
Create an “inbox” for kids to leave sheets that need your attention, like permission slips.
Know how to ask about their day – “how was school?” may not be the best conversation starter. Ask open-ended questions, or share something about your own day before asking what the best part of their day was. If they come to you with a problem, brainstorm solutions together rather than immediately trying to fix it.
Serve a healthy breakfast that contains protein. Children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better.
Prioritize your family’s activities. Even though things are slowly returning to normal, use this time to evaluate the hobbies and activities your children enjoy, rather than overscheduling and signing your kids up for every available opportunity.
Create a quiet workspace for homework and projects. Remove distractions from the area, and keep school supplies organized nearby.
Advice from Experts
Make the transition back to school better with these ideas and advice from professionals.
Melisa Marsh, Cobb Schools’ Supervisor of School Counseling, Advisement and Crisis Response:
As children and families acclimate to shifting school schedules, many will struggle with changes in routine and the loss of whatever daily online habits they’d settled into during distance learning. Returning to school in-person will also mean navigating new or altered physical environments and following a variety of safety protocols. Some children could even feel like they’re experiencing withdrawals from their digital lives. To help with this, parents could ask their child to identify ways they might balance their media use.
Lisa Kelly, Lower School Principal at Mt. Bethel Christian Academy:
Parents should start establishing the morning routine a few days before school starts to help make the transition to getting up and out of the house easier. Identify who is responsible for each task, the parent or the child, including: packing lunch, snack and water bottle; ensuring homework and school items are in the backpack; and having a morning hygiene and breakfast routine. Having a solid plan in place that has been rehearsed will help make those first few early mornings go more smoothly, which greatly benefits the child. Students who feel rushed and out of sorts at the beginning of the day will be more anxious and unsettled in the classroom.
Barbara Jacoby, Cherokee County School District’s Chief Communications Officer:
Cherokee County School District encourages parents of rising kindergartners to check out the information on our website that highlights the learning and fun planned for their child’s upcoming year, including a kindergarten guidebook and a “day in the life of a kindergartner” video at bit.ly/CCSDkindergarten. Resource webpages for each elementary school grade with printables, like flash cards and handwriting templates, is at bit.ly/CCSDresourcesK.
Dr. Andi Shane, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University:
In-school instruction is a personal choice, and every family needs to make a decision based on what works best for their child and their family. We have increasing evidence that secondary transmission (infections resulting from infections in children and staff at school) is rare. In addition, as more people 12 and older are being vaccinated, the risk of transmission in the school setting is reduced even further. We also know that the social, emotional and developmental opportunities afforded by in-person instruction far outweigh the risks of infection transmission. However, as a pediatrician specializing in infectious disease and epidemiology, we still need to be safe. This means ensuring that students and staff are completely asymptomatic before going into the school environment, emphasizing hand hygiene and masking, and reminding students about reporting symptoms immediately.
Planning for a Changed School Environment
Keep in mind schools and school systems are monitoring guidelines to determine what changes will be implemented for the year.
Parents may want to check their school’s policies on social distancing, masks, visitors, serving meals in the cafeteria, assigning seats on buses, health checks, using water fountains, after school programs, recess and playground protocols.
To help your child acclimate to socializing with more than just family members, choose a family you trust to have a playdate at a playground or park.
Know your school’s resources. “Since some students may be returning to in-person instruction from a year and three months of distance learning, teachers will do a COVID-19 debriefing with students during the first week of school to help get them acclimated back into the school building,” says Brent Shropshire, Bartow County School System’s Director or Counselors, College Readiness, Wellness and Fine Arts. “School counselors will also have a Trauma 101 Training prior to the start of the school year to help them recognize signs of trauma a student may have experienced during their time away from the school building.”
Many students and families are relieved to be returning to in-person classes, but your child may be anxious about the upcoming school year. Atlanta Parent spoke to Dr. Stephanie Walsh, the Medical Director of Child Wellness at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life, about how you can help your child cope with back-to-school stress.
How can you talk to your kids about back-to-school anxiety?
Regardless of a child’s age, start by asking open-ended questions to find out what’s on their mind and actively listen. Remove any distractions, like your phone, give them your full attention, and be careful to avoid statements such as “Don’t worry about that!” or “It’s going to be fine.” Even though you mean well, these types of responses minimize your child’s feelings and may make them less likely to share their thoughts or feelings in the future. Instead, let your child know you understand by repeating back what you hear and letting them know it’s OK to feel however they’re feeling. Once you know how they are feeling, help them work through those emotions rather than avoiding them.
How can you help your child prepare for school if this is their first in-person experience?
If your child is going to be attending school for the first time in the fall, you can help ease their anxiety by using the summer to prepare them for what to expect. If possible, you may want to:
Visit the school before the first day.
Meet the teacher.
Drive or walk the bus or drop-off route.
Have playdates with other kids that will be at the school.
How can you help your kids deal with the anxiety about COVID-19 if they’re returning to in-person school?
It’s important to ask kids open-ended questions to get a sense of how they really feel, rather than making assumptions. Dismissing or minimizing their concerns doesn’t help them feel better. Instead, let them know it’s normal and OK to feel anxiety about in-person learning. Help your child learn to name, and work through, their feelings with healthy coping skills. If your child is feeling anxious about the unknown, help them focus on the facts and what we do know. If they are particularly overwhelmed thinking about the future and all the “what if” scenarios, try to shift their focus to what you know right now. Knowing what to expect can put their mind at ease.
How can you make the transition to back to school easier?
Create daily routines to help keep things predictable. Knowing what to expect can help create a sense of comfort and security. Although things can change from day to day, try to have some consistency with bed- and wake-times to help your child transition back to school more easily. Encourage your family to prioritize healthy habits, such as drinking water, eating balanced meals and snacks, being active, getting enough quality sleep and limiting screen time. Practicing healthy habits will help support your child’s mind and body as they transition back to school and can have a positive impact on their mood, focus and behavior.
How should you talk to your kids about COVID-19 safety precautions?
As much as possible:
Stick to the facts, and tell your kids only what they need to know.
Use language that is clear, simple and developmentally appropriate.
Help them understand that regardless of changing guidelines related to masking, they can continue helping to keep themselves and others safe by washing their hands, keeping their distance and staying home if they are sick.
If you are more nervous about the return to in-person school than your child is, how can you keep them from picking up on your own anxiety?
As a parent, you are human and have your own feelings, too. It’s normal and understandable to feel worried about your child returning to school, but keep in mind that kids look to adults to see how they should behave or react. If you are showing signs of anxiety, your kids will think they should feel anxious, too. Try to share your calm, instead of your anxiety. Consider talking to friends, family and other caregivers about how you feel. If any confusion or uncertainty is causing anxiety, talk with the school to get your questions or concerns answered.
How can you teach your child to deal with their anxiety?
Here are some simple coping skills you can teach and practice with your child:
Group of local or online homeschoolers to form a community where we all feel relaxed and comfortable. Must naturally hit it off, and if our kids get along, that’s even better. Must share ideas, field trips, encouragement, tears, laughs, rides, curriculum, coffee, playdates and frustrations. Future possibilities include: starting a small learning co-op, holiday parties, book clubs for different ages, sports and more.
Sound too good to be true? It can be your reality! If you are new to homeschooling and haven’t yet found your tribe, taking the leap could lead you (and your kids!) to homeschool zen. Everybody talks about homeschool socialization for your kids, but what about for you? Why can’t you have both at the same time?
Homeschooling mom Angie Pemberton shares, “My tribe is our little group of kids about the same age. I think it gets a bit harder to homeschool as kids get older and they start feeling like they are missing out on some of the school stuff. This group helps us get the good stuff without the drama. We have our own little summer co-op and field trip group and love the support we get from each other.”
So where can you find – or how can you start – your own homeschooling tribe? Here are my suggestions:
Join an Existing Group
There are many homeschooling support groups in Georgia and the metro Atlanta area; a good place to start is the Georgia Home Education Association, which has a list of names and regions. Start with a large support group meeting to see if it’s a good fit for both you and your children. You may jell with a few moms, and you can then branch off into your own weekly meetup and bring others in as you make connections.
During school hours, go to places where homeschoolers hang out – libraries, parks, indoor play areas, zoos and children’s museums. Some libraries have a homeschooler lunch bunch; you can also search online for local co-ops and classes. Maybe you meet someone at the library who you think would fit into your group very well, and you invite him or her to your next park date or book club meetup.
Unless you are a social butterfly, heading into a group of homeschooling parents might seem a little scary. Take a deep breath and do it anyway … it’s for you and for your kids, after all, and you deserve to find that special supportive set of people.
Start your own group
Host a book club, nature hike or field trip and invite a variety of people you’ve collected using the methods above. Some might never come, some will come religiously, but soon enough you’ll start to figure out who your tribe is. My experience has always been that the kids will follow your lead and, if you get a large enough group going, they will find at least one person they also connect with.
For me, this is the easiest way to find and maintain your tribe. Start with social media sites like Yahoo Groups, Meetup and Facebook. You can start your own group online if you aren’t finding what you want, or if you just want to do your own thing. Invite tribe potentials and then they can invite friends they like. Your group might be full of homeschoolers from all over the country (or world!) or maybe you connect with a handful with whom you can meet locally.
Don’t forget you can have more than one tribe! I put together a great tribe of hippie-ish unschooling parents that met at a coffeehouse/gym combo for a long time, but then I also found a fantastic group of structured homeschooling women when my family started at a co-op. They are on entirely different ends of the homeschooling spectrum at times, but then so am I. You can, conversely, have one tribe that’s entirely online and one that only meets for field trips. The sky’s the limit.
What about disagreements and problems? It’s true that there are going to be disagreements in any group. Sometimes you just need a break after a sticky situation with another mom or between the kids; sometimes there needs to be a full-on break-up with the entire group. Sometimes you just change and maybe outgrow the tribe and slowly and politely make your exit with no hard feelings. People in your tribe will move away, stop homeschooling altogether, have drama over things non-homeschool-related and more.
Your tribe will grow, shrink and change. Be open to the tribe concept and I promise it will enrich the homeschooling experience for both you and your kids. Keep an open mind and collect your wonderful homeschool friends wherever you can find them. Then nurture those relationships, because you’re going to need the support on your homeschooling journey!
Matt Burke and Ben Tapper join Mike Palmer to talk about what we can learn from the congregational experience especially in light of the transformative times we’ve been living in. Matt and Ben work for the Center of Congregations in Indiana and cohost its podcast providing tools and educational resources to congregations across the state and beyond.
We look for parallels and opportunities that come from examining online learning and digital delivery in congregational contexts and explore how to embrace difference while modeling tolerance in an ecumenical way. Ben and Matt share their journeys to this point in their professional lives as we explore the importance of adaptability, relationship-building, and theological hospitality in providing great learning environments. We also dive into how to build welcoming, evolving congregational spaces that provide equitable access to a wide and diverse audience. It’s a meaning-rich conversation that you won’t want to miss.
Kids can learn about history and explore the outdoors at parks and historic sites in Georgia as they work toward earning 59 different site-specific Junior Ranger badges. Inside each Junior Ranger Activity Book there are missions to complete for badges at each park.
Imagine being face-to-face with the world’s most exotic animals in their natural habitat with this immersive digital experience with a 4K laser projection, audio, scents and in-floor haptics. July 1-Aug. 8.
Enjoy an evening of team challenges, scavenger hunts and interactive activities that will help you learn more about nocturnal species and how they use their different senses to navigate in the park. July 2 and 17.
A patriotic, hometown parade starts at Veteran’s Memorial Park and ends at Greenville Street Park; followed by entertainment and food at Newnan High School’s Drake Stadium directly after parade; fireworks at dusk. July 4.
Catch these special exhibits in metro Atlanta. Due to safety precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, attractions are requiring tickets to be purchased in advance; call or check websites before you go for other safety measures.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Learn more about the science behind habitats, plants, animals and humans in this outdoor exhibit with examples of habitats and biomes from around the world. Through Aug. 29.
Center for Puppetry Arts
Journey to the newly reimagined world of Thra with a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the fantastical inhabitants and landscapes, puppets, props and artifacts. Through Oct. 31.
Paul Reville is the Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). He is the founding director of HGSE’s Education Redesign Lab. In 2013, he completed nearly five years of service as the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Paul joins Mike Palmer to talk about his new book, Collaborative Action for Equity and Opportunity which he coauthored with Lynn Sacks. We explore the practical steps for school and community leaders to establish programs centered around Children’s Cabinets focused on the welfare of all children in the community by building the wraparound supports beyond what schools alone can provide. We also build on the conversation we began with Paul after his book, Broader, Bolder Better, which was the subject of his previous appearance on Trending in Education.
We appreciate the work being done by Paul and team to make an impact on students and communities traditionally underserved by our educational systems and hope you take the time to listen and to spread the word.
If you enjoy what you’re hearing, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Visit us at TrendinginEducation.com for more great content like this.